FA CUP PREVIEWS AND TEAM NEWS
STAGS DETERMINED TO KEEP CUP DREAM ALIVE
Evening Post, 12 December 2006
It is not every day that footballers at League Two level get to test themselves against Premiership players.
But Mansfield's current squad are fortunate in that they have enjoyed such an opportunity twice this year.
In January, the Stags journeyed to Newcastle United for a third round FA Cup tie and won plenty of admirers, if not the game.
Then, in September, Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth came to Field Mill for a Carling Cup second round match but, again, despite a late comeback, the Stags bowed out.
And, should the Stags manage to beat Doncaster tonight in an FA Cup second round replay - then the opportunity will be there to make it third time lucky.
Bolton Wanderers await the winners of the last evening match at Belle Vue before Rovers move to their new stadium in the New Year - and that has not escaped the attention of the Stags players.
Keeper Carl Muggleton is relishing the prospect of taking on the Trotters.
But he realises seeing off Doncaster to make that happen is going to be a far from easy task.
"Now the third round draw has been made it is a massive incentive for us that we could have a Premiership club at home in the next round," said Muggleton.
"Clubs in League One and League two love to pit themselves against quality players and to play against a Premiership side is a great spectacle for the fans.
"We will go up to Doncaster with the aim of giving a good performance and hopefully that will be good enough to get through.
"A run in the cup is just what we all want because it gives you confidence and it can help you to put a run together in the league as well."
The Stags were only denied victory when the sides met at Field Mill by a deflected stoppage-time leveller from Brian Stock.
Muggleton still laments that goal and believes that with a little more fortune he might have stopped it. He said: "When (Jason) Price missed that chance with the header we were getting close to victory and the 90 minutes was up.
"But we were unlucky with the goal.
"It took a couple of deflections off Jake Buxton and Jonathan D'Laryea on the way through.
"I still thought I could save it and I got back across towards the ball, but it just went under my arm.
"I was a little bit disappointed I didn't keep it out.
"I always look to see what I could have done better for next time and at what happened during the game.
"That is part and parcel of learning about the game and I still think I am, even at my age (38)."
Many observers have already written off Mansfield's chances of winning at Belle Vue, so poor has been their form away from Field Mill this season.
But Muggleton insists that counts for little in the world's most famous knock-out competition.
"Our away form in the league has not been the best but it's a cup game and cup games are different - anything can happen," he said.
"You don't approach it differently but there is an edge to it, because the match has to be decided and there is the incentive of playing Bolton."
Stags must improve for Rovers clash
CHAD website, 11 Dec 06
MANSFIELD Town know they are going to have to produce something special to win at in-form League One neighbours Doncaster Rovers tomorrow night (7.45pm) with the carrot of a third round home tie with Premiership Bolton Wanderers dangling for the winners.
They will certainly have to play far better than they did in Saturday's tame 2-0 home surrender to Bury.
But, at the same time, Stags know they have what it takes to beat the Yorkshire club, having led 1-0 with 91 minutes on the clock in the first game before Rovers snatched a late equaliser to force this all-ticket replay.
Since then Mansfield have also seen off high-flying Swindon comfortbaly 2-0 before Saturday's inexplicable dip in form.
It is a sequence that has again puzzled and frustrated manager Peter Shirtliff.
"Being a young side is no excuse," he said. "They have got to realise they have to be more consistent.
"You have no chance as a manager as you just don't know what to expect from them.
"It is so frustrating and I am sure they are as disappointed. But once they are on the pitch it is down to them.You can only do so much.
"We just fizzled out on Saturday. We started brightly and their goal was the first time they had got into our box and it was poor defending.
"I can't remember Carl Muggleton having another save to make and I felt at half time that we could still get something out of it.
"But straight after half time their second goal crept in - again from poor defending - and we just fizzled out.
"I think we had one corner and no shots at goal in that second half which tells you that, as an attacking force, we were absolute rubbish."
He added: "We know we can match Doncaster. It is usually a good surface there.
"Being the last night match at Belle Vue will make it a little bit of history which will probably add to the occasion and bring in a fair sized crowd.
"I hope that jolts my players and they play how they can play.
"Obviously it will be a difficult game. Doncaster will be favourites now on their home pitch and they have had a couple of good results since we played them.
"But anything can happen in cup ties."
Apart from Stephen Dawson (back injury) Shirtliff expects to have evryone else available.
Rovers are now nine games unbeaten and closing in on the League One play-off spots.
They have only lost once at home all season and since the 1-1 draw at Field Mill have won 4-0 at Brentford and 2-0 at Northampton.
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